Chapter 3 Summary

Gram receives a letter from the hospital in Boston where the children's mother lies in a catatonic state. The correspondence is three pages long, but Gram tells Dicey only that there is "no change." When Dicey presses her for more information, Gram angrily retorts that she does not want her to "[make] the mistake of thinking life isn't going to be hard." Dicey snaps back that she already knows that, and Gram responds grimly, "I guess you do...I'm a natural fool...I keep trying to count on things."

It is October, and the children are settling into their new lives. Sammy is not fighting at school as he always has before, and James is writing an excellent report about why the Pilgrims came to America. Maybeth is invited to a birthday party, and Gram makes one of her own old blouses into a dress for her to wear. Dicey runs into Jeff, the boy with the guitar, at the bike rack at school fairly regularly, and sometimes sings with him while he experiments with harmonies.

Dicey continues her work at the store, as Millie Tydings seems to appreciate the help. One day, she finds the owner agonizing over a purchase sheet: Millie has mistakenly ordered corn flakes instead of corn chips. The flustered woman confides that she had never learned to read properly, because all the words look alike to her. When Dicey offers to do the ordering, Millie is clearly relieved to have someone else take over.

Dicey thinks about Millie and Maybeth, who continues to struggle with her schoolwork. She feels sorry for Millie, and wants "something better" for her sister's life. Interestingly, despite her difficulties with academics, Maybeth finds it easy to read music notes onto the piano keys. She is excelling with her piano lessons, and is already playing "real pieces, with chords."

In Dicey's English class, the students are asked to write a character sketch about a real person and the conflicts that person has faced. Intrigued, Dicey decides to write about her mother. After class, Mina asks to discuss the assignment with her, but Dicey declines, without being sure exactly why. Rebuffed, Mina is at first angry, but then good-naturedly observes, "You sure are...

(The entire section is 887 words.)